Author Guest Blogger

Strategies to Self-Pity Proof Your Writing Life

Today’s guest post is by Lori Stanley Roeleveld. She is a blogger, speaker, coach, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four unsettling books, including The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com and is represented by Bob Hostetler.

 

To persevere in the writing life, we’re wise to develop strategies against self-pity. Opportunities for it abound. Writing and connecting with readers is hard work. Rejection, setbacks, low sales, or criticism will periodically factor into our labors. As Christians, we also have an enemy who targets us when we’re down. Many talented writers have fallen prey to the paralysis of self-pity. So, prepare a plan.

  1. Remember the farmer. Farming is a calling, a lifestyle, a commitment. Farmers must know their business, secure the right tools, invest relentless effort, and pray. Still, there are a myriad of factors out of the farmer’s control that determine the success of any crop. Weather, pests, disease, fluctuations in the market, and changes in buyers’ tastes all impact farming’s bottom line. It’s the same for writers. Just as farmers can’t take it personally when there’s an early frost, neither can we when three more famous writers release books on our topic a month before ours. Writing’s not the only calling known for hardships and steep odds. Relish the challenge. Write anyway.
  2. Give disappointment its momentbut only that. Many jobs require one interview. Writers interview with every agent, publisher, reviewer, and reader. That’s reality. Rejections sting. Missing out on awards or contracts hurts. Bad reviews and sales dips are uncomfortable and frustrating. When facing a low moment, stop to lament what you’d hoped would happen. Acknowledge the loss. Experience grief. Quit writing. Give up. But set an alarm for an hour later when you will set the loss aside, open your laptop, and write again. (For big losses, take a day or so, but schedule the end of your lament by circling day three on your calendar.) Be accountable for this to a trusted friend who believes in your work. Unquit and begin again.
  3. Remember your life is also a story. Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. We are each invited into His story, but we have our own thread. As writers, we know a story falls flat if no one struggles, no one overcomes hardship, no one rises up off the mat after a series of blows. Keep a timeline of your life divided into decades. Below the line, write important happenings, the ups-and-downs, the triumphs, and the follies. Above the line, record what God was doing, speaking, or teaching you during that period. Ask Him to show you what theme or greater story He is telling through you. Then, commit to live the greater story. Celebrate the ways He’s demonstrating His presence with you–through successes and failures. Keep hold of the long view. Look forward to the days in eternity when we share our stories and imagine yourself saying, “And that was the moment I nearly gave up, but . . .”

Ask veteran writers how they fight self-pity. Have your prayer team pray specifically against the temptation. Memorize Bible verses on perseverance. You’re not alone. Have a plan, and keep writing. What’s your strategy?

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In 2002, as my health was crumbling to the point that full-time teaching was no longer a possibility and I didn’t know what I was going to do, my dad–feeling as though I needed a major lift–took it upon himself to make my publishing dream come true. He sent a story I’d written, titled A Seeking Heart, to Steve Laube, who, at the time, owned a self-publishing company called ACW Press. And Steve agreed to help me get it into print.

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Doubtless there are a plethora of reasons why we do not feel thankful. Perhaps business is stressful, or marriage is disappointing, or parenting is unfulfilling, or health is deteriorating, or school is unrewarding. Or maybe we simply take for granted God’s goodness to us.

How important it is, then, to rehearse frequently all that God does for us. Only then will an unending torrent of thanksgiving be unleashed from our hearts. Nowhere is God’s goodness more compellingly set out in His word. Immerse yourself in what follows, luxuriate in the story of God’s grace to you. . . and be thankful!

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Who is like the Lord our God? Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been declared to you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is He who is enthroned above the vault of the earth . . . and who stretches out the heavens like a curtain. How majestic is His name . . . When we consider His heavens, the work of His fingers, the moon and the stars which He has ordained, what are we that He should take thought of us?

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